This week we have been learning about one of the biggest celebrations of the year for America – Thanksgiving. Talking Tables’ American team members have been discussing their favourite aspects of the holiday, and also what they’ll be missing or changing this year whilst still making the most of Thanksgiving and all that it means. On Thursday we shall be enjoying some Thanksgiving fun in the office with some American themed quizzes, food and drinks!
What does Thanksgiving mean for you?
Alissa: FOOD! and being grateful for the people in your life. Better than Christmas because there’s no pressure of giving/receiving gifts.
McKenna: Thanksgiving means a time to reflect on the past year. Thanksgiving serves as a gentle reminder we have so much to be grateful for! Looking around the table at faces of family members I love the most is always the perfect reminder of how grateful I am to have a healthy family and how blessed we are to live in this free country. How grateful I am to my ancestors for all their sacrifice!
Tracy: Thanksgiving is all about family, good food and relaxation. My family does not celebrate Christmas (we are Jewish…my husband is half/half so now I get a bit of Christmas whimsy!) so Thanksgiving is a really big deal to us. Unlike many US holidays which not all companies observe, everyone observes Thanksgiving which allows for proper relaxation and family time disconnected from email, laptops and social media.
Andre: Thanksgiving for me is a traditional time where everyone stops their day-to-days and gathers to reflect on the year past. As time has passed, ‘the kids’ (which includes myself, my siblings and my cousins) have gotten older and left the nest both physically and in some ways mentally – starting on our own individual life paths. It is a relaxed and informal time where we get to come together and spend time catching up, whereas Christmas just a month later can then be more focused on enjoying and living in the moment. Over the years as we have moved further and further apart geographically (with myself taking the cake at over 5300 miles/8500 km away), Thanksgiving has lost a bit of prominence with my extended in lieu of Christmas, but it has been an occasion that is kept dear with my immediate family.
What does your typical Thanksgiving celebration look like?
Alissa: Going home to where I grew up, getting together with hometown friends and family, my grandma cooks a huge feast and gets very drunk on wine. Usually ends with a dance party in her kitchen.
McKeena: My typical Thanksgiving usually includes my grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins, and my immediate family all gathering at my Aunt’s house in Peachtree City, GA for lunch around 2pm and we stay till late into the evening eating the wonderful food and playing games. We all live within 10 minutes of each other. Cousins that have moved away travel home for the holiday. Each family is given their role on what to cook and bring to share. Cooking for your family and friends is one of the most personal ways to share our love for one another. Food definitely brings people together!
Tracy: My family is pretty small so Thanksgiving is always an intimate affair. The day ALWAYS starts with mimosas. Usually my parents, grandma, my brother and our respective partners attend. Over the years the day has gotten more intimate as we split holidays with our partners families if we can.
Andre: Thanksgiving Day has kept the same cadence over the years, and there certainly is a comfort in the familiarity! It starts as early as 6am, where my mum gets up and gets the turkey in the oven for a nice, juicy slow roast. In recent years I eventually crawl out of bed after a lie-in to assume the role of sous-chef. My first task as sous-chef: pour the motivational mimosas and get the music plaing! After that I assist my mum in making a wide array of sides, and coordinate any last minute trips to the shop for missing bits and bobs. Thanksgiving Dinner for us is usually Thanksgiving Lunch, kicking off around 1pm. We all go around and talk about what we are thankful for that year and then tuck right on in! Once we’ve all eaten we always put a film on and tend to collectively fall into a food coma. By evening time, it’s usually time for round 2! We then rest early so that we can get up early to join the shopping madness of Black Friday!
What will you be doing for Thanksgiving this year?
Alissa: This year is our daughters first thanksgiving (yay) and even though we aren’t going home for it, there is a local American restaurant we’ll be ordering a turkey takeaway and sitting down for dinner together.
McKenna: This year will look a bit different for every family I’m sure due to the ongoing worldwide pandemic. This year, I will be having a more intimate gathering just with my boyfriend. We were advised by the CDC not to gather with large groups or people outside our quarantine pods unless outside. It will be nice as we share our first large holiday together as a couple! We usually travel home to our respective families and spend the holiday with them. This year, we can make our own pies and note have to share lol!
Tracy: This year we will be with my sister in law, her husband and their 3 year old twin girls, they have been in our COVID bubble and its been so nice to spend extra time with them. Since plane travel is highly recommended against with COVID being so widespread, my in laws are not able to join making the day extra intimate. Good thing we have facetime!
Andre: Due to my distance I have skipped Thanksgiving in recent years (though I have been to a fair few charity thanksgivings for American expats in the past.) This year, especially given the state of the pandemic, will generally be the same story. I will phone home and will be on the phone with my mum for hours as she is cooking away back home. However, I am so happy that we have a ‘Friendsgiving’ planned in the office and reckon (as the resident American) I’ll get to introduce some of my traditions to the team!
Favourite Thanksgiving dish or tradition?
Alissa: All the sides, especially mashed potatoes and stuffing. Favourite tradition is the above mentioned drunk grandma haha but also getting together with all my cousins
McKenna: Favourite dish is definitely a pumpkin pie made by my mom! She always puts the perfect amount of spices in. I could honestly eat a whole one by myself.
Tracy: At my parents, we always eat Thanksgiving meals in our pajamas! We get out the nice china and sit in the formal dining room while enjoying being comfy. In more recent years, leggings have entered the picture….the more stretch the better!!
Andre: My mum’s baked macaroni & cheese is the stuff of legend in my family. In fact, I remember one year whilst at university my mum was debating not doing her macaroni & cheese, and I full stop threatened not making the journey home if she didn’t make it. A couple of my cousins joined me in my light-hearted protest as well. Needless to say we convinced her to make double the amount than usual!